It's Behind You

Book Review

Itís Behind You: The Making of a Computer Game

By: Bob Pape

Available for free download for Kindle, all E-readers and PDF at:

Reviewed by RetroText

Itís Behind You: The Making of a Computer Game, are the recollections of computer games programmer Bob Pape with focus on one particular game that he coded in the late 1980's for the ZX Spectrum, ĎR-Type.í The title is a reference to the iconic end of level boss whoís long bio-mechanoid, Giegeresque tail curves from its body one end of the screen to the other side, surrounding your fighting ship in the process.

Bob had just completed Rampage for the ZX Spectrum and joined a small team of programmers who were contracted to code new games for some home computer formats. Bob was given the game he initially considered the worst to programÖ R type. In the book, he explains the colourful story that surrounds the conversion of the Irem shooter.

Itís Behind You documents the journey of the trials, tribulations, tricks and techniques that Bob and his colleagues used to get this iconic game to general release. The book also chronicles the underhanded practices that Bob experienced during the development to the game. Bob also explains how game magazines operated when it came to featuring, previewing and reviewing R-Type with humorous anecdotes of less than honest previewing by some.

Bobís writing style takes the stance that the reader is not new to the world of 8-bit computer games. Instead Bob assumes that the reader was enjoying playing games on their computer system at the time he was coding this game. This is just right in my opinion as you can read this book at a nice steady tempo without stopping to go over what a Commodore 64 is in great depth (in case you did not know), a mistake that could easily occur on a book of this type. To help the reader get a better sense of the game layout, Bob has also included screen shots dotted throughout the text.

Itís Behind You is sincerely written and Bob seems to give people the benefit of the doubt for their motives in his book, leaving the reader to draw their own conclusions about some of the characters he worked for. There are glowing mentions for some of his colleagues who were coding the Commodore and Amstrad versions of the game which adds to the authorís kudos, while making the reader appreciate the limitations of the systems that were being worked on. He also addresses some problems with the final mastering of the game and offers an interesting theory why there were loading problems with the first release.

The book is available as a free download as Bobs feels that some work should be free at source. There are many self-published books about this subject that I have purchased and this book is higher quality them some of them. Perhaps he has sold his talent a little short since the book is certainly worth money.

In summary, itís Behind You: The Making of a Computer Game is interesting, humorous and an eye opener to the world of game programming at a time when the bed room was the creative hub of an industry. It rekindles some forgotten memories for the reader too, speedlock and big boxes for games. If you have played R-Type for the Spectrum, Commodore or Amstrad then this book is a must read and a worthy addition to your Retro gaming collection.

Rating: 9/10

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